The last time I checked RoD was two weeks ago and everything was quiet on the Western front, as the old folks used to say. Imagine my surprise to visit today and see some 70+ comments on the last post. Granted, more then a few of them were dups (ahem, AMPA) which I have laboriously deleted down to their originals, but still a lively discussion on multiple fronts has obviously sprung back to life here.
I'm particularly pleased that the innie/outtie debate is not one of these. What a fun food fight we all had over at Salon! Now that it has finally wound down, though, it's great to have this place all to ourselves. (As always, current SY practitioners are welcome here. As always, none but the most intrepid seem to ever comment out of fear of being put on 'the list'. Who is left in SF to maintain said dreaded list is an open question! Nevertheless, it seems just us outties milling around here.)
There are several dominant themes that have emerged in the comments to the last post, and rather than reply to them there, I thought I'd tease two of these out further by making them the subject of a new post:
1. artsquiggle commented that his attention has turned from SY to his practical life which, partly as a result of his many years of practice, has been "left in shambles". Another reader seconded that emotion:
- "My practical life went down the tubes. cannot get back those 25 + years of endless exhausting seva and every last nickel I had of dakshina spent while I should have been developing a career. The opprotunity cost of spending the most productive years of your life in Siddha Yoga, astronomical. Lately there are many anniversaries, retirements, celebrations of accomplishment to attend, not for me. I cringe to think of how with all the talent, energy I had when I came to Siddha Yoga in my early twenties, I managed to not establish myself securely. No, I burned it all up, flushed it down the toilet of a complete charade."
2. AMPA writes that his wife has fallen into a deep depression over G's disappearing act:
- "My wife survives on my very sufficient income and other resources rather nicely. BUT, the survival of her SELF-IDENTITY is still utterly dependent on Siddha Yoga. Her despondency on the state of the "path" and the unavailability of Malti to her adoring devotees, makes her utterly, crushingly depressed. Everything has suffered as a result of it in our family life. She is often totally unclear in her thinking, her judgement and discernment are often utterly clouded, her ability to think sharply is now totally dulled and so is her former ability to get things done quickly. It's like she's moving in slow motion and I know it's only partially based on physical fatigue. The emotional fatigue and baggage Malti has left her with, is painfully sad to watch. I feel so good to be free of any dependency on the Guru anymore. And I watch her, in her despair, and it makes me despair for her."
These are both issues that all of us are dealing with in greater or lesser ways. For instance, I just applied for a job at a major non-profit and was asked to provide evidence of my prior volunteer commitments. How, I wondered, could I not list Siddha Yoga? I have literally spent years in 'selfless service' to the Guru and the path; my bona fides for giving back should be spotless. But, then again, how can I reference those years, what actual value did they have beyond enriching a fleecing charlatan now fled? Even if I bucked up and tried to spin that experience into something useful to humanity, who is around to verify all that work? Who could I possibly list as a contact? Of course, I have it relatively easy compared to many, many others; I held a job 'in-the-world' throughout my many years of practice. Those who were on the 'inside' and are now out face a much tougher dilemma since their primary experience of work--in what is rapidly being recognized as a cult--is in danger of being called into question.
Please, if you have made this transition from on-staff to in-the-world work, consider posting your experience here. Many people like Anon above are struggling to re-establish themselves in a tough job market, with little or no savings, and real questions about how to craft their 'seva' into relevant experience an employer will value. I think it is very important, as well, that we re-affirm for each other that what seems like wasted effort now was truly was truly important work to the community of believers at the time. None of the wonderful experiences we still cherish of our time in SY could have happened without the 'endless exhausting seva' of the ashram staff.
Finally, the issue of depression caused by the dissolution of belief in SY. Some of us, like AMPA, have loved ones who are still tenaciously clinging to belief despite the obvious (to us) slow-death of the Siddha path. But, as Older but Wiser observed, if we are honest with ourselves we've all gone through depression over the dying of what we thought was our light. I still struggle with it from time to time. There is no replacement for the feelings of certainty, security and absolute safety that a global belief system like Siddha Yoga provides. If we don't jump to another belief system, if we are now mostly allergic to belief systems, we're thrown back onto our own resources. We're left trusting in only ourselves during a time in life and in an economy when so much seems so precarious. It is scary. We need each other to get through this.